The following are some of this week's reports from the MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) Project, which translates and analyzes content from sources monitored around the clock, among them the most important jihadi websites and blogs. (To view these reports in full, you must be a paying member of the JTTM; for membership information, send an email to [email protected] with "Membership" in the subject line.)
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On December 18, 2015, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new video produced by its media company, Al-Malahim, featuring a lecture by its leader Qassem Al-Rimi. In his lecture, titled "The Nearest Enemy," Al-Rimi explains why Al-Qaeda sees the U.S. as the main enemy and the target on which efforts must be focused. He also criticizes the Islamic State (ISIS), albeit without naming it. The video was distributed via AQAP's Twitter account on December 20, 2015.
Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani, the leader of Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN), Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, recently gave a comprehensive interview to four Arab news sources (Al-Jazeera, Orient, Al-Ghad Al-'Arabi, and journalist Hadi Al-Abdullah). In the interview Al-Joulani discussed in depth various issues, such as the recent diplomatic developments in the Syrian crisis as well as the military aspects of the conflict, including the Russian intervention and the prospects of a ceasefire. He also alluded at length to Jabhat Al-Nusra's ties with Al-Qaeda, rejecting out of hand any possibility of a break between them.
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In an interview with the Syrian opposition Orient News TV, Jabhat Al-Nusra Leader Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani said about the Riyadh conference on Syria, which concluded December 10, 2015: "[It] constitutes high treason against the youth who shed their blood and sacrificed their lives." He rejected the demand for his faction to disconnect from Al-Qaeda, saying that it was not Jabhat Al-Nusra's link to Al-Qaeda that was preventing the toppling of the Al-Assad regime. Al-Joulani further said that he was confident that the Al-Assad regime was "on the verge of collapse." The interview aired on the Syrian opposition Orient News TV on December 12, 2015.
Following are excerpts:
Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: "I view the [Riyadh] conference as a step toward implementation of what took place in Vienna. This is the first step in that direction and is closely connected to the [Vienna talks]. The outcome of the Vienna talks was in no way keeping with the interests of the people of Syria, and is entirely unacceptable."
On December 23, 2015, a new audio message from Jamal Ukasha, the commander of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Sahara region was published by Al-Jazeera. In his message, Ukasha, aka Abu Al-Hummam, celebrated the November 20 attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali, which was carried out by Al-Murabitoun, a jihadi group which recently merged with AQIM. Ukasha lashed out at France for its "invasion" of Mali and vowed to wage war on it until it left Mali and all other Muslim lands. He also praised the attacks carried out in Paris by the Islamic State (ISIS), but without mentioning it by name.
In November 2014, the MEMRI JTTM reported on Invite to Islam, the Birmingham, UK-based organization which appears to have ties to the Islamic State (ISIS). ISIS fighters and supporters continue to circulate the memes created by the group that feature quotes from jihadi clerics, such as the late radical Yemeni-American sheikh Anwar Al-Awkai and the Australia-based Musa Cerantonio. In the past, the group has openly eulogized slain ISIS militants. It should be noted that the memes' pro-ISIS messages were once subtle, but that this seems to have changed, as indicated by a recent graphic featuring a quote by ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and an ISIS flag. According to media reports, the Invite to Islam account administrator played a role in radicalizing a young American woman.
Since the MEMRI JTTM's first profile of Invite to Islam, the organization has gained thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram. In November 2014, its Twitter account had some 4,600 followers; at the time of this writing, its Twitter followers number nearly 6,200. Its Instagram account had some 11,300 followers; in mid-December, this page was taken down, and as of this writing its new Instagram page has 31 followers. The group os also active on Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Also in mid-December, Invite to Islam announced on its Instagram page that its new website is forthcoming; in November 2015 its previous website was taken down by hacktivists targeting pro-jihadi content online.
Screenshot of Invite to Islam's Instagram account
Examples Of Content Circulated By Invite To Islam
The memes created by the group are circulated by both jihadi supporters online and by ISIS members residing in the Islamic State itself. A meme posted March 12, 2015 on the group's Facebook page read: "We need the system of Islam which is Khilafah." The background of the meme is an ISIS flag.
On December 6, 2015, the Islamic State's (ISIS) Al-Hayat Media Center released an audio recording of a nashid [religious song] in Chinese titled "Mujahid." The song, which was released via ISIS-affiliated forums and Twitter and Telegram accounts, calls on Chinese-speaking Muslims to join the jihad, and contains many of the ideas typical of ISIS's recruitment messages, e.g., that Muslims must liberate themselves from enslavement, that ISIS's victory is near, that it is the religious obligation of every Muslim to wage jihad, and that a true mujahid is willing and even eager to die in battle so as to attain martyrdom. Interestingly, the lyrics are somewhat evocative of Chinese revolutionary rhetoric and at one point they seem to intentionally echo the Chinese national anthem.
Details have emerged regarding the background of Maulana Asim Umar, the chief of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) based in Pakistan, according to an Indian daily.
AQIS chief has appeared in videos with face digitally blurred
A December 17, report in Indian media revealed the real name of Maulana Asim Umar is Sanaul Haq, a resident of Sambhal, a town in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Asim Umar was appointed the emir of AQIS by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in September 2014.
On December 21, 2015, a pro-ISIS Belgian woman on Twitter consulted her Twitter followers, asking about whether suicide bombings are permissible according to Islam. Her question was answered by a Swedish ISIS fighter. The previous day, in a conversation with another woman, she revealed that she was a convert to Islam.
On December 21, 2015 the Islamic State (ISIS) media office in the North Baghdad area published a series of pictures under the title "Flames of Battle," showing military activity in the area.
One of the pictures features what appears to be a USAF B-1B strategic Bomber being refueled in the air. Other pictures show mounted machine guns; various mortars, including home-made devices, and a soldier firing an RPG. There are also pictures allegedly showing the aftermath of an ISIS attack on barracks of the Iraqi army and Shi'ite militias.
The communique of the 70 ISIS members
Recently, 70 members of the Islamic State's (ISIS) branch in Yemen, including both officials, commanders and common fighters, announced that they were renouncing ISIS's "governor" in Yemen. An ISIS official hastened to quell the rebellion, warning the rebels that they will be expelled from the organization. Members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who were the first to leak the story, were quick to take advantage of it, urging ISIS members to defect to AQAP.
On December 21, 2015, the Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated Al-Wafa' media company posted an six-page article by Elias Al-Jazrawi that suggested methods for downing coalition aircraft. Al-Jazrawi notes that Muslims must prepare and work hard to repel the "Crusader" attack against the "caliphate state," and that they also must invest the time in conducting scientific research to aid it in its jihad.
On December 23, 2015, dozens of Twitter accounts affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) posted a fatwa banning the sale, use, and repair of satellite dishes and reception devices in ISIS territories. According to the fatwa, which first surfaced Dec 15, 2015 on a Twitter account, which is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the ban is aimed at protecting children and people in general from corruption.
According to an Indian media report, suspected Islamic State (ISIS) hackers diverted a Delhi-based firm's payments from a London client to an ISIS account in Turkey.
The Times of India newspaper quoted an unidentified Delhi Police official as saying that the fraud, in the amount of 50-60 million rupees, was diverted possibly by hacking an employee's email account. "The probe is at an initial stage. It is early to rule out the role of ISIS in this massive cyber heist as we are indeed probing some Turkey-based hackers who may have terror or ISIS links," he said.
Following are excerpts from a Pakistani media report revealing details of how women are being used by the Islamic State (ISIS) in Karachi to raise funds:
In Pakistan's Bannu town, slogans on wall in favor of ISIS
"Karachi: It all started with a request. Short and simple. 'Aap se darkhwast hai (We're making a request to you).' And that was enough. It was a code, used by Islamic State-inspired militants to raise funds for their activities in the metropolitan city [of Karachi]. The women's wing of the Middle Eastern terror outfit was mainly responsible for generating funds. Once the money had been collected, the women would give it to the male members of the group, who then passed it on to their head honchos. Another code came into play when the middle man came to receive the money. 'Amanat de do (Please return the keepsake),' he would say. These words were enough."